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Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement (TAMR)

Kyle Ness is the NATCA TAMR Article 114 Representative 

Background:  The TAMR program deploys and sustains Terminal Automation for the Terminal Radar Approach Controls (TRACONs) and associated Air Traffic Control Towers in the National Airspace System (NAS). The automation platform for the terminal NAS is the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS). Deployment of the STARS system is currently being accomplished in two tech refresh phases – replace the approximately 100 Automated Radar Terminal Systems (ARTS) and tech refresh the STARS G1/G2 systems deployed pre-2007 with G4 and G4 ELITE hardware. STARS is sustained by the TAMR PMO, Terminal Second Level Engineering (TSLE) and the prime vendor, Raytheon. Sustainment activities include STARS software/hardware requirements, software/hardware development and testing, STARS training, Safety Risk Management, and field support. 

Joshua Control Facility (JCF) will transition to STARS February 27. Controller training is due to be complete February 14 in preparation for system configuration. NATCA floorwalkers are approved for travel in support of the transition. 

STARS tech refresh activity was impacted by COVID-19 travel and visitor restrictions. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) at Laredo, TX (LRD) was planned May 29, 2020 and is now planned for May 30, 2021. Norfolk, VA (ORF) IOC “path forward” meetings have resumed but the date remains TBD. 

STARS software activity is moving ahead with carefully planned test events.  The R7a and R8a builds were delivered from Raytheon early February. R7a/R8a are revisions to the currently fielded builds R7/R8 and correct a problem when MSAW alarms forced to the tower displays from the TRACON. R7a/R8a will be available for key site this summer. The next software build with new content is S6.R9. The latest R9 revision, Drop 9, was delivered to the FAA late January. Drop 9 corrects discrepancy reports found in previous R9 test events and NATCA SMEs will test once more in late June before key site. The next drop to R10 is scheduled early June and testing will follow in September. Key site for R10 is planned late October 2021. R10 is the last build before STARS transitions to the Linux operating system and delivers Approach Runway Verification (ARV) which is a tool to alert controllers to potential wrong surface landings. The new operating system build was delivered to the FAA December 2020, testing and release are TBD. 

Raytheon delivers a software briefing with each build that explains the content in less technical language and format. The intent of this document is to provide each site an overview of the build content so the site can choose new functionality and use the briefing for local training. NATCA TAMR is currently reviewing the R10 briefing after the first round of comments. These software briefings can be found at:  http://inet.atctraining.faa.gov  

Concurrent with the new Operating System build, the STARS training simulator known as ATCoach will see several updates. NATCA is working with the TAMR Program Office to fully understand the impact of these changes and the training required. A new scenario editing tool, AT Prepare will also come with the OS build. Training requirements for AT Prepare are also being evaluated. 

NATCA and the TAMR Program Office held an Article 114 meeting with all stakeholders to discuss plans to phase-out the STARS printer. The STARS printer is end-of-life and a replacement has not been qualified. A software modification was delivered in the R7 build that enables the “print-to-file” function. Print-to-file allows Tech Ops to load these printouts on a mobile device such as a USB drive and save/print the files on separate workstation or laptop. Terminal Second Level Engineering drafted a System Technical Release to give sites direction on how to remove the printer from the system if it fails. Plans to phase-out the printer system wide are under further review. 

TAMR Standardization is a series of equipment replacements and upgrades required for future STARS capabilities and system enhancements (fiber cable, routers, new tower monitors, etc.). Standardization will replace all Tower Display Monitors (TDMs) with the higher-resolution and digital capable TDM manufactured by Eizo. As of January, 20 tower kits have been delivered to the STARS Material Center. 

NATCA PBN provided a short briefing of advanced RNP operations and potential requirements for terminal automation. NATCA TAMR and Program Office will attend a more in-depth presentation to be made at the ERAW meeting early March. 

The Minimum Safe Altitude Warning/ Collision Avoidance (MSAW/CA) Board is reviewing reports of Conflict Alert not activating as expected. It appears that ADS-B updates to the STARS tracker is resulting in changes to CA activation in cases where the two tracks are on edge of alerting parameters. Further analysis by Second Level Engineering and Raytheon is ongoing to better understand the nature of the issue. 

Jason Rose is the NATCA TAMR Systems Engineering Lead 

Background:  The Systems Engineering Lead represents NATCA for STARS software and hardware requirements. The Systems Engineering Lead also coordinates software/hardware development and deployment activity for NATCA including Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E), SME selection, software planning, site rules and Safety Risk Management, Discrepancy Report resolution, and vendor Early User Involvement (EUI) events. 

During the last month, Mr. Rose has participated in the TAMR STARS Weekly Look Ahead. The goal of this meeting is touch base with the TAMR STARS team to discuss any needs for accomplishing goals soon. He also participated in NATCA/TAMR PMO Tag ups, TAMR/STARS TSAS Meetings and the STARS Strategic Planning (SSP) Meetings – The purpose of the STARS Strategic Planning Meeting is to coordinate and get feedback on integrated hardware and software planning among TAMR stakeholders. 

PTRWG (Program Trouble Reports Working Group).  

Stakeholders went through the process of reviewing the Top 40 PTRs. Most stayed at the current rank and a few have new action items for additional investigation. Three of those PTRs had slight movements within the Top 40. Stakeholders reviewed the eighteen ATCoach related PTRs that are on the Watch List. These PTRs were originally placed on the Watch List due to new ATCoach and ATPrepare products being developed on Linux OS. It was suggested that this group of PTRs be extended on the WL until Jan 2022, a time when it is more likely that these can be tested against the new product. The only ranked PTR to be closed is FAAst13765 (Display Distance of Track to Geographic Point in Time Measurement). NATCA recommended closure of this Program Improvement as they are not hearing that this is a need now. Only one previously un-ranked PTR was included in the rankings. Program Improvement PTR FAAs15262 (ICAO Aircraft Types) was reviewed and NATCA placed this at 56.500. 

Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E)  

Mr. Rose along with Kyle Ness (M98) and Jefferson Bishop (A80) traveled to the FAA Technical Center January 11th – 15th for STARS S6.R9 Drop 8 OT&E Regression testing. A small footprint was used for testing this time around with COVID-19 test protocols in place where the goal was to safely maintain physical/social distancing while the tests were being conducted. Regression testing focused on new functionality delivered in Configuration Control Decisions (CCDs)/Case Files, PTRs and SCCMUs. In addition, System Baseline Tests (SBTs) were run, and time was allotted for the SMEs to conduct User System Assessment (USA). 

The next scheduled test events at the Technical Center: 

S6.R9 Drop 9 OT&E Regression is currently being re-planned. 

S6.R10 Drop 3 Regression Air Traffic/OSF Testing is April 12th-23rd 2021 

Rules Trouble Reports Working Group (RTRWG)    

A meeting was held on January 28th.  Stakeholders reviewed and approved the following Rule Change Proposals (RCP’s): 

RCP Title: – STARS-O-0116 – Add Exit Fix Check 

Kalamazoo (AZO) and Phoenix Mesa (AZA) would like to use Rule 116 as a “no handoff” check in certain areas. To make this effective, would like to use a combination of owning TCP and exit fix.  Using owning TCP alone does not indicate if an aircraft is coming into the airspace or exiting the airspace.  Used along with an exit fix check, could indicate an aircraft is leaving the airspace (exit fix) without a handoff having been completed. Resolution: This is referencing rule 0143, Rule 0116 to be implemented in DMS – Add exit fix to criteria to rule 0143. 


RCP Title: – Suppress Display Aircraft Type when it is a Site Adapted value 

screen 3 of 3 when entering a Special Auto-Acquisition Code (SAAC) aircraft type is a required entry. N90 AT wanted to enter the code with just a CODE, ACID, TCP, Flight Type and VFR. The aircraft type could be different depending on which aircraft was assigned the SAAC. I propose a new rule that will suppress the display of aircraft type if it is a site adaptable value, I used NONE for the example. Resolution:  Approved to proceed forward new rule number to be determined. 

SRD (Site Rules Document) v10.1 was signed on January 6th and distributed to all OSF’s. These updates included requirement changes for site rules 0040 (change), 0148 (new) and 0149 (new). After the release of SRD v10.1, discrepancies were found with STARS-O-0149 (new) using C90 and SBN adaptation. Guidance from the Tech Center was not to change either rule 0040 (current configuration) or rule 0149 (previous configuration) until a resolution has been agreed upon. Testing of SRD v10.1 rule 0040, P50 (Phoenix TRACON) adaptation was completed by DEN OSF with the result that it is working the way it did previously for them in S6R6. 

Stakeholders came to an agreement at the January 28th meeting to ensure a fix for STARS-O-0149.  A plan was also put in place to have additional testing done prior to a new release of a rule, for Site Rules that are affected by being displayed on the glass (scope). Mr. Rose traveled to DEN OSF on February 10th to visually confirm Rule 149 (on the glass) is working as was expected when it was Rule 40 (v6.2) in SRD v10.0.  He witnessed all 5 available site adaptable configurations on the G4 and Elite system.  

Software Planning Board (SPB) – Stakeholders discussed adding Program Trouble Reports (PTR’s) and Software Change Configuration Management Unit (SCCMU) to the following upcoming builds. 

S6.00R9 – In addition to new content, the schedule is updated. Concurrence was given by all Stakeholders. 

Safety Risk Management (SRM) Panel – Panel members were informed of the two Return to Specification PTRs for S6.00R7A and S6.00R8A.  There is an error in the R7/R8 baseline software, and these fixes were originally slated to be put into the R9 Software.  However, R9 is scheduled to be released in late 2021.  Therefore, it was determined that sub-builds, R7A and R8A, will be developed, tested, and released in mid-March/April 2021.  Although the SMS manual does not require a safety analysis for PTRs that are fixing the system to perform as specified, all panel members were given the opportunity to discuss this fix, and all agreed it did not pose a risk to the NAS.  An SRM document without hazards will be written for these two sub-builds.  

System Technical Reports Working Group (STRWG)  

Stakeholders came to concurrence on software updates to FAAst12339 Radar Stat is pass for radar reinforcement rate when no active monitoring. This software updates with a new status value that is being added to the buttons in the Sensor Detailed Status window. This status will appear as N/A/Grey and will alert the operator to the fact that the related parameter is not tested with the current adapted setting. In such a case, the operator will be reminded, if need be, that the actual measured value for that class of data, at any time, can be obtained by running an RTQC report on the sensor and/or to possibly set the adapted threshold(s) to other than the default value(s). 

Scott Kendrick is the NATCA TAMR OSF Representative 

Background: The NATCA TAMR representative represents the multi-unit for terminal adaptation, testing, requirements, key site, software planning, deployment, and site rules. 

During the last month, Mr. Kendrick was a member of the TAMR STARS Weekly Look Ahead, whose purpose was discussing any requirements necessary for meeting the TAMR STARS team’s near-term goals.  Mr. Kendrick also participated in TAMR/STARS TSAS Meetings and the STARS Strategic Planning (SSP) meetings.  The purpose of the SSP meeting is to coordinate and get feedback from TAMR stakeholders on integrated hardware and software planning.  

PTRWG (Program Trouble Reports Working Group)  

The top 40 PTRs were reviewed. Three PTRs’ rankings shifted a little, but the vast majority remains unchanged (except for some additional analysis, etc.).  Eighteen ATCoach PTRs—listed on the Watch List (WL) due to upcoming Linux-based software—were reviewed/discussed.  Since it’s unlikely the PTRs can be tested until early 2022, it was recommended that the PTRs be left on the WL until then.     

PTR FAAst13765 (Display Distance of Track to Geographic Point in Time Measurement) was closed.  

– Program Improvement PTR FAAs15262 (ICAO Aircraft Types) was reviewed; NATCA-ranked 56.500. 

Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) 

– Mr. Kendrick served as a OSF STARS SME at WJHTC during S6.R9 Drop 8 OT&E  Regression Testing from January 11th – 15th.   Testing was targeted at new functionality delivered in Configuration Control Decisions (CCDs)/Case Files, PTRs and SCCMUs.  

Rules Trouble Reports Working Group (RTRWG) 

– If Available Show ADSB Aircraft ID in WHO DB: If the aircraft data is available show the 

   ADSB aircraft ID in the WHO data block. 

– Add Exit Fix Check:  AZO and AZA would like to use Rule 116 as a “no handoff” check in certain areas. To make this effective, would like to use a combination of owning TCP and exit fix.  Using owning TCP alone does not indicate if an aircraft is coming into the airspace or exiting the airspace.  Used along with an exit fix check, could indicate an aircraft is leaving the airspace (exit fix) without a handoff having been completed.  

– Suppress Display Aircraft Type when it is a Site Adapted Value: When entering a Special Auto-Acquisition Code (SAAC) aircraft type is a required entry. N90 AT wanted to enter the code with just a CODE, ACID, TCP, Flight Type and VFR.     

Software Planning Board (SPB) 

– S6.00R9 – Updated schedule, minor content changes. 

– Added PTR FAAst14483 (Maintain Established Altitude at a Higher Resolution); will be tested in R9 D9. 

– S6.00R10 – Updated schedule, minor content changes. 

– Added PTR FAAst15251 (Linux DRD Status Issue) and PTR FAAst15337 (PCT Workstation Failures)  

Safety Risk Management (SRM) Panel 

– R7/R8 baseline software contains errors that were supposed to corrected in R9, but since R9 isn’t scheduled to be released in late 2021 it was determined that sub-builds R7A and R8A will be developed, tested, and released in earlier.  

System Technical Reports Working Group (STRWG) 

– STR FAAst12339 Radar Stat is Pass for Radar Reinforcement Rate when no Active Monitoring: A new status value is being added to the Sensor Detailed Status Window.  The value is labeled as N/A to remind the operator that the affected parameter has not been tested as changed.   

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